November 20, 2015

If you live in a bustling city, growing your own food probably presents too many logistical issues to make it worth pursuing.  

But many people who hope to grow food in--and on--their homes are finding inventive ways to make urban agriculture more accessible. 

Indeed, adapting new spaces to grow food is part of a new movement to make local food a reality – even in the largest metropolitan areas.

For Courtney Hennessy and John Stoddard of Higher Ground Farms, deciding to create a rooftop farm in Boston was very much a “labor of love.”

Unlike many forays into urban farming, Higher Ground Farms is a for-profit company that aims to bring locally-grown produce to neighboring restaurants.  

Typically, growing food in cities has been the province of nonprofit organizations whose funding came from grants.  

Thanks to technological advancements and growing skepticism of the food industry, though, farming at home is  becoming a popular option for more people.

Dr. Laura Lawson, the Dean of Agriculture and Urban Programs at Rutgers, says that this isn't a fad – it's here to stay.

"The previous movements [towards urban farming]" like the 'Victory Gardens' of WWII, "tended to be temporary,  and they were started by organizations and agencies that were involved in a bigger issue."

She argues that what we're seeing today, by contrast, "is a movement where people want to be more connected… I think that now it's grounded in a much bigger idea about the overall food system and how people have no control.”

An emerging culture of startups has also allowed entrepreneurs to surmount some of the hurdles people face when growing food at home.

Take, for example, Grove Labs, started by MIT graduates Jamie Byron and Gabe Blanchet. They offer what they call a “living pantry.”  It's powered by a self-filtering fish tank (read: fish poop as fertilizer), uses LED lights, and is housed in a cabinet designed to look like furniture. 

"I think in general our generation is starting to realize a lot of the mistakes we’ve made in past generations," says Byron.

Coverage of our environmental and sustainability reporting comes, in part, from The Kendeda Fund.

Green, food, agriculture, Urban Farming, Rupa Shenoy

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